Savannah Bananas Take Home the Triple Crown of Postseason Awards

The Bananas achieved the CPL Triple Crown of postseason awards, locking up the league’s best pitcher in Joe Miller, best coach in Tyler Gillum, and best broadcaster in Biko Skalla. When you factor in the team winning both the 1st and 2nd halves of the regular season, as well as the CPL Championship, all while repeatedly breaking the internet… Yea it was a pretty good summer in Savannah.

Joe Miller will have a well-deserved display in the Bananas Hall of Fame (when it’s built), for more reasons than one. Obviously nabbing CPL Pitcher of the Year honors as well as being a major part of the franchise’s second ever CPL Championship team is enough to get him in there. Joe had a 6-0 record, while striking out a league high 71 hitters in 42 innings tossed while pitching to the tune of a 1.50 ERA. He also dazzled in his only playoff start, which came in game 2 of the Western Division Championship. With the Bananas a loss away from elimination, Joe struckout a season high 11 HiToms in 6.2 innings, giving up just 2 runs that came in on the final pitch of his night. Unfortunately, that final pitch, the 9th of the at-bat, was his 106th of the game which according to league rules mandated 5 full days of rest and made him ineligible for any CPL Championship games. When Tyler Gillum and Corey Pye broke the news to Joe after the Bananas lost game 2 of the Championship to force a decisive game 3, Joe had tears in his eyes. The rising senior at the University of Pennsylvania (3 years of eligibility still), is a gamer. There was nothing he and the Bananas wanted more than to have the ball in his hands with the season on the line. Although the Nanners didn’t get to throw the best pitcher in the league in the most important game in Savannah since 2016, that didn’t mean Joe wasn’t a factor. He was an electric factory in the dugout, as he put all of his energy into supporting his teammates from the first pitch to the final out of the game. That’s another reason why Joe will be in the Bananas Hall of Fame. This is a guy who was supposed to go to the Cape Cod League this summer but came to Savannah when the Cape’s start got pushed back a week. When Joe wasn’t getting definite answers on if he would be getting innings up north once he did report for duty, he decided it was in his best interest to stay in Savannah where he was having a blast and could compete for a championship. He was a beloved teammate, an excellent and exuberant dancer, and let’s not forget, the best pitcher in the league.

“It means a lot to win the award,” Joe said, “although obviously nowhere near as important as the championship. But in general the whole summer for me was important just to be able to have fun playing baseball and realize how much I love the game. And the success I had on the field was also great in helping me move forward into this next year at Penn after the tough past 2 years we’ve had.”

Tyler Gillum was in his fourth summer at the helm of the Bananas this year. He’s had tremendous regular season success, as the Bananas have won more games since his start in 2017 than any other team in the CPL. He is also revered by his players about as much as physically possible. You don’t get guys coming back for four years (Bill LeRoy and Kyle Luigs), three years (Danny Oberst, Ryan Kennedy, and Christian Dearman), and two years (Drew Yniesta, Nick Clarno, Bill Knight, Jesse Sherrill, and Nolan Daniel), without being loved by your players. Coach Gillum offers a combination of top notch instructional help, with an army of players with testimonials who can’t stop speaking his praises, as well as the Flip the Switch mentality towards entertainment that is necessary for success in Savannah. With the most veteran team in the league, as well as plenty of incredibly talented first year guys to bolster the squad, Tyler led the Bananas to their best season in franchise history, going 36-8 in the regular season and winning the Pettit Cup Championship. His championship winning play as a coach was in game one of the 3-game series, when he gathered the guys outside the dugout as they trailed 4-0 going into the 6th inning in Morehead City. His impassioned speech sparked a 2-run 6th and a 3-run 7th that propelled the Bananas to a 5-4 comeback victory. The tears of joy in Gillum’s eyes as his boys celebrated their ultimate triumph after game 3 shows you just how much he cares about his players. After 50 games the Bananas were once again at the top of the CPL, and Tyler Gillum was the obvious choice for coach of the year.

“I feel honored to receive this award, but, honestly, this is a team award,” Tyler said. “The players, assistant coaches and front office won this award together. It takes everyone to have a successful summer and we had some very hard-working people that made it all possible. I want to thank everyone with the Bananas organization for all their time and effort. This award is for all of us.”

Biko Skalla came to the Bananas from MLB/NHL Network for the 2020 Bananas season. He hit the ground running last summer, pretty much immediately developing a fierce following of Nanners’ superfans who loved watching and getting to comment on his broadcasts. Biko stood out last summer with his desire to broadcast every game, taking his patented whiteboard to away games because he was unable to show video of the field. With the league back in full swing in 2021, more and more people learned of the brilliance of Biko in the booth as well as off the field. We’d be hard pressed to find a broadcaster who puts more work into learning every fact and story possible about the players and coaches from every team. We’re sure plenty of people this summer were also introduced to Biko through his postgame Ripe Rundowns, where he interviewed players in unique settings (to put it mildly). From joining players in the shower, an ice bath, in a dress on second base, just being a floating head amongst hamburgers, and even interviewing himself, the postgame interviews brought even more fans into the Bananas wild ways. There were over 500 submissions to the CPL speaking Biko’s praises and making it obvious there was only one correct choice for best broadcaster in the league.

“It’s an incredible honor and really warmed the heart to win this award,” Biko said, “but there are so many people I need to thank who helped make this happen. From Jared and Jesse for taking a chance on me two years ago, to Kara and the entire marketing team who have done an immense amount of work to put me in situations where I can succeed, to Emma and my unbelievable Bananas TV team, and all my family and friends who have supported me along the way.”

The Savannah Bananas are incredibly proud of Joe, Tyler, and Biko, as well as everyone else who was a part of this magical summer. The memories will live on forever, as will the hardware!

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